“When you post on social media, avoid religion and politics”

How many times have you heard that you should avoid controversial or potentially polarizing topics in your marketing? It’s one of the oldest rules in the book: Unless you want to alienate your audience, don’t say anything that could offend anyone. Don’t plant your feet on the ground and take a stand.

Well, some big brands aren’t afraid of breaking this rule. You shouldn’t be afraid to do it either.

Opinions are attractive. You may think that if you’re lukewarm on every topic and never offend anyone, you’ll attract a broader audience. But if you hover in the middle and don’t take a stand, you’ll attract very few people with your wishy-washy attitude.

If you’re a solid brand that knows what you want, you’re not trying to appeal to everyone. You’re trying to appeal to a specific group. And that group won’t have any reason to take a longer look at you if you don’t say anything interesting. This is your secret weapon: Have a strong opinion, and flaunt it like you’d flaunt any of your brand’s other interesting qualities.

What Happens When Brands Take a Stand?

Let’s look at a recent example: Gillette’s new ad. The ad brings up the brand’s slogan, “the best a man can be,” in the context of the #MeToo movement and the discussion of masculinity. It clearly took a strong stand that upset many people, and pleased others. Some saw the ad as an unfounded criticism of all men, pandering to a political group, while others found it a just condemnation of harmful behaviors. The storm that followed, both good and bad publicity, skyrocketed Gillette into the national conversation. The ad currently has over 29 million views, and has inspired many discussions, full of criticism and applause.


While many have declared that they won’t be buying Gillette products anymore after the ad offended them, others are doubling down, or now choosing Gillette over other brands. This ebb and flow often turns in the brand’s favor.

Another example of this was Nike’s ad featuring Colin Kaepernick. The company saw $43 million dollars’ worth of exposure in 24 hours after the ad went viral, according to Bloomberg.

Though it seems like the backlash is what catapults marketing ventures like these into the public eye (Twitter blew up with pictures of people destroying their Nike products in protest, similar to the pictures of people flushing their Gillette razors down the toilet), Nike’s ad garnered mostly positive feedback. Not only that, but in the four days following the ad’s reveal, Nike’s sales for that time of year rose 27% higher than the last.

You Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Take a Stand

Sharing content that affects people emotionally is a good thing. If something controversial gets traction, in the worst-case scenario, it may cause some of your audience to unfollow, but the good thing about these sorts of posts is that they spread easily. What you’ll lose, you’ll very likely gain in new followers that will be loyal due to your transparency and aligning with their beliefs. Consumers now more than ever expect the brands and businesses they follow to be vocal about their ideals, and to take a stand on issues they care about.

This doesn’t mean that every single post of yours on social media must now be political or inflammatory. But they should share your brand message or opinion. An article on Contently explains it best: “As humans, we love being told stories that makes us think—that up our intellectual game in some way. No one gets excited about reading a fact sheet. This might seem pretty obvious, but it tends to get overlooked when brands craft content strategies.” They go even further, explaining that the answer isn’t to ask what your brand believes in, but what the people who represent your brand believe in. Having clear perspectives that guide your company will translate to your marketing and content strategy, and that will translate to your audience.

Even though the propensity for outrage on social media can seem staggering, it’s worth it to weather the storm if it means attracting and maintaining your ideal audience. The next time you find yourself or your team worrying if a certain tweet, gram, image, or post is too polarizing, remember that people appreciate strong opinions, and go ahead and hit ‘share.’

If you are an entrepreneur struggling with getting your strong message out to the right people on social media, give us a call. We’ll chat and see if we can help you with one of our popular done-for-you programs. Or email us here.